Out of the Shadow and into the Light
When you are in the shadow there is no light. It is cold and dark, and it can feel incredibly lonely. The internal critic constantly comparing and echoing your deficits, the external chatter of what your older sibling did before you, and feeling this shadow will carry with you for the rest of your life. It is overwhelming and crushing, especially when you are young. This is what I experienced growing up in the shade of my brothers and it is also what my youngest is feeling now. It is heartbreaking to watch her compare, always feeling a lack of worth and constantly churning to keep up and be seen.
Supporting my youngest as she works her way through her reality has been challenging because I can’t fix it. I desperately want to wave a magic wand and remove her feelings of not being enough and the inner chatter that she has to keep up. She has the drive to do everything her older sister does and much of it is not age appropriate. It creates friction and frustration internally and externally for her. Her path is dark and I wish more than anything I could illuminate her magnificence.
My attempts at lifting this gloom have not been successful. You can’t simply tell a person how incredible they are and "poof" they internalize this belief. If only it were that simple, our world would be a much different place. My words of affirmation are often refuted or they fall on deaf ears. It breaks my heart as a mom and calls forward the sadness I felt as a young girl. I discovered this was exactly the combination that was necessary for me to begin to best support my darling daughter.
Sometimes I forget how powerful my own experiences are when sharing them with my daughters. Storytelling is a tool I consciously work to do more of. This approach is not used to minimize their experience (it can be used that way and it is incredibly hurtful), but instead as a connector. As a mom, I can empathize with my youngest and share my experiences as I listen to hers. It helps her to not feel so alone. She now has a companion as she walks on this shadowy path. To cast light upon the way, I shared a quote with my youngest by Theodore Roosevelt, which resonated deeply in me. The quote is “Comparison is the thief of joy.” She latched on to this quote and has used it regularly when she struggles in the darkness. This has helped her create her light from within.
Some differences exist between my two girls, no one being better than the other. They both have their strengths and areas that they will work on their whole lives. Their situations are different, and the challenges and gifts that are presented to them in this life are different. They are both incredible beings with immense potential. I hope that as my youngest continues to understand her purpose, she can move out of the shadow of her sister to create her own path.
Messages to my Daughters: You are incredible gifts in this world. Wrap your arms around yourself and love yourself. Embrace your sisterhood. Join hands and know as you venture out on your journey know you will always have one another.